7:30 pm, my husband and I begin the bedtime routines with our 2 girls. Our 3-year-old brushes her teeth, takes a bath, then it’s jammies, stories, and songs. It’s typically the same most nights, with the occasional derailment. Ok, we always get derailed. She wants a carrot to munch on in bed, she has to go potty for the 10th time, she needs a different stuffed animal, she wants her other water bottle with the robots NOT the butterflies, she wants the soft sheets not the scratchy ones, the list goes on. I sing her to sleep in her big girl bed, give her a butterfly kiss, then I sneak out of that bed like a slow motion ninja. I have it down to a science. I know which parts of the bed squeak, which parts of the floor creak, and how to precisely shut the door so it doesn’t make a peep. I finally escape toddler haven for a brief moment and enter the kitchen, where my husband is holding the baby and is simultaneously doing dishes. We greet each other for a second, and then the baby wants Momma again. Off I go, to the nursery, to nurse the baby for the 90th time today. It’s time to get kiddo #2 to sleep. Maybe. If the stars align. An hour later, maybe the baby is asleep. By this point, it is likely 11pm.
I work on my direct sales business, my husband grades college papers across the room, and we listen to crackles and sounds on the baby monitor, wondering just how long we have until a kiddo wakes. Usually it is less than a half hour. Does all of this sound familiar to you parents out there?
Dear Husband Across the Room,
I see you there and I hear you typing. I love sharing the same space with you, even if we are both completely engulfed in our own thoughts of college grading and business marketing, while listening to that monitor that will undoubtedly have a baby in it in a matter of minutes. Before kids, we had down time. We had time to talk, to stare into each other’s eyes, to talk about our hopes and dreams, and our only interruptions were the occasional dogs who wanted to be let outside. It’s so different now.
I want to remind you that this craziness is temporary. I want you to know that I love you more now than ever, and nothing makes me happier than seeing you as an amazing Daddy. I want you to know that you are doing an amazing job providing for our family, and creating a loving and cozy home for your wife and children. Your hard work never goes unnoticed or unappreciated. Our marriage is strong, thank God for that, because this parenting stuff is HARD. I glance at you across the room and you look tired. Really tired. But so handsome, loving, content, peaceful, but exhausted. I love you, but can’t recall the last time I have looked into your eyes to tell you precisely that. Some days we are too tired to have an intelligible conversation. You, dear husband, have been temporarily demoted, in the throws of parenthood. I used to pack your lunch every day, leave you notes in your lunch box, make sure all of your laundry was done in a timely fashion, and hug you and kiss you goodbye every arrival and departure from home. If one of these happens on a given day, it’s a good day.
I want you to know that while this is temporary, it isn’t easy. There are some really hard days, and some days all I want is to have time with just each other without a baby crying or a toddler climbing up our legs. Like old times. I want to look into your eyes and feel that intense love that I felt for all the years before we became parents; before we were too exhausted. It’s still there, buried behind our tired but love-filled eyes and hearts. In the scheme of things, this time period is short. We are being the best parents we can possibly be to our amazing little girls. Now instead of vesting all of our energy into being a good husband and a good wife to each other, we have to balance it with being loving parents. It’s a tough walk across the balance beam, and I hope we make it across without too many scrapes and bruises. Until we figure out that perfect (or near perfect) balance, I want you to know that I still see you over there. I still hear you typing. I still love you immensely between yawns and sighs of exhaustion. I love you, dear husband, even if now only from across the room.